The 2019 session of the Washington State Legislature began Monday, January 14. It’s a long 105-day session and Democrats currently have majorities in the state House and Senate. There are over 20 new elected members coming into the legislature which is sure to create some unexpected changes.
A significant transition is that Speaker of the House Frank Chopp has announced this will be his last session as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He is Washington State’s longest-serving speaker of the House and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Chopp is the second longest serving House speaker in the nation. As previously mentioned, Senator Andy Billig was selected as the Senate Majority Leader after Senator Sharon Nelson retired rather than running for re-election.
Governor Inslee delivered the annual State of the State address, where he proposed that lawmakers fix the mental health system and continue improving schools. The Governor emphasized the need for the Legislature to tackle climate change by passing laws that ensure all electricity in Washington is generated without fossil fuels by 2035. The Governor proposes a twenty percent increase to the state budget which, by some estimates, is $10 billion above the current budget.
In previous years, Governor Inslee backed a cap-and-trade system to force reductions in carbon emissions. In November, voters rejected a carbon fee. This year he’s looking for incentives and regulations to fight climate change.
The AWPPW Washington Area Council will, of course, be monitoring this policy area closely and looking for opportunities to include Energy Intensive Trade Exposed (EITE) standards for workers.
We will also continue to support the Washington State Labor Council’s Shared Prosperity Agenda with a specific focus on supporting issues related to rights and protections for workers, families and communities.
If you want to find and contact your legislators go to http://app.leg.wa.gov/ DistrictFinder. If you are interested in following what’s going on in the legislative session visit www.leg.wa.gov or tune into tvw.org.
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Legislative & Political Director Washington Area Council, AWPPW